There Are A Record 19 Million Vacant Houses In United States; And Rising: Hello

Discussion in 'Economics' started by ByLoSellHi, Feb 3, 2009.

  1. Probably closer to 20 or 21 million. Hello.

    Record 19 Million U.S. Homes Stood Vacant at End of 2008
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    By Kathleen M. Howley

    Feb. 3 (Bloomberg) --
    A record 19 million U.S. houses stood empty at the end of 2008 as banks seized homes faster than they could sell them and prices continued to fall.

    The fourth quarter’s all-time high was 6.7 percent above a year ago when 17.8 million properties were vacant, the U.S. Census Bureau said in a report today. The vacancy rate, the share of empty homes for sale, rose to 2.9 percent in the last quarter, the most in data that goes back to 1956.

    The worst U.S. housing slump since the Great Depression is deepening as foreclosures drain value from neighboring homes and make it more likely owners will walk away from properties worth less than their mortgages. About a third of owners whose home values drop 20 percent or more below their loan principal will “hand the keys back to the bank,” said Norm Miller, director of real estate programs for the School of Business Administration at the University of San Diego.

    “When you’re underwater and prices continue to fall, you tend to walk,” Miller said in an interview. “It’s a downward spiral that’s tough to stop because it feeds on itself. Foreclosures encourage other foreclosures and falling prices discourage buying.”

    There were 2.22 million new foreclosures in 2008, an average of 6,090 a day, according to Washington-based Hope Now Alliance. Those resulted in 917,000 property sales, according to the group that represents 27 mortgage lenders and servicers.

    U.S. banks owned $11.5 billion of homes they seized from delinquent borrowers at the end of the third quarter, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. in Washington. That’s up from $5.4 billion a year ago.

    To contact the reporter on this story: Kathleen M. Howley in Boston at
    Last Updated: February 3, 2009 10:18 EST